Big Issue

Every month here at we take a look at the current issues that surround Sky+ and give our comment and analysis.

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This Month - Sky+ Customer Care - by Callum MacFarlane
Posted on Wednesday,1st August 2002 

The Trials & Tribulations of Sky+ Customer Care                    
     First things first…Sky+ is an excellent product and has endless potential to improve and update itself.

Now for the bad news:

Sky offer poor Sky+ customer service and offer an endless cycle of nonsense to help support their Sky+ customers.

Sweeping generalisations like those above may come across as unfair, but one can only go on the evidence available.


Cut to Courtroom number 1…
M’Lord, can I present to you…
Exhibit A…

In explanation of this exhibit m’Lord, can I tell you a true story about a Customer with a problem.

You may know that the Sky monthly statement is the bill for all your Sky services including your premium product Sky+ service.

It does show your Sky+ subscription and the correct amount of money to be debited, but at the point, the bill’s usefulness ends.

The Customer lost his Sky+ Instruction Manual and wanted to know if he could request, download or pay for a new copy.

Nothing too complicated there you might think…think again.

The Customer checks his Sky statement to look for Sky+ Customer Service. None is listed. However Sky Customer Service is listed.

The Customer thinks this might be the most relevant entry so he calls the Helpline on the number shown 08702 404040:

Things are looking good, after only a few seconds wait the Customer is talking to a real live person.

Customer: Hello I’ve got a Sky+ query can you help?

Sky: Sorry there’s a different number for that – its 08702 432480

Customer: Oh thank you…


So the Customer rings the Sky+ helpline on 08702 432480 and tries to navigate their voice menu system:

Press 1 to purchase Sky+

Press 2 to activate Sky+

Press 3 to Book an install

Press 4 if you are experiencing technical difficulties

Press 5 if you’re still awake (no, sorry, I made that up) Press 5 for General Customer Care 

– none of the options sound like what the customer wants, and there is no "other" option.

The Customer presses the number 5 out of hopefulness.

A gentleman answers.

Customer: Hello, Can I have a new Sky+ Instruction Manual or download one from the internet?

Sky: I’m sorry, we advise customers to contact the manufacturer and request one themselves…

Customer: Well, yes I could do, but you couldn’t do that for me?

Sky: No, we have so many manufacturers of our boxes, you need to contact the relevant manufacturer yourself.

Customer: Sorry, but Sky+ is only made by one company and that’s Pace.

Sky: Sorry, I don’t know that, but I’m sure you know what you’re talking about.

Customer: Hmmm…can I download it from your website,

Sky: I don’t know, but there’s a separate department who deal with that, can I give you their number?

Customer: Errr…ok then.

Sky: Yes the Sky Active people should be able to answer your query on 08706 066663

The Customer then rings the new number and an automated voice asks him for his phone number:so the customer entered it. A short delay and a lady answers:

Customer: Hello, Can I download the Sky+ instruction manual from your sight, if you can, it’s not obvious.

Sky: I’m sorry this Department just deals with Sky Active not the web site.

Customer: Oh

Sky: But I can give you a number you can try Sky Technical Services on 08702 435000….

The Customer sighs deeply.

Onto call number 4 The Customer dials 08702 435000

Customer: Hello can you tell me whether I can download the Sky+ instruction manual from the site?

Sky: Sorry as far as I know, no such facility is available, have you tried speaking to the Sky+ people.

Customer: Yes, I have, I phoned the Sky+ customer service people on 08702 432480

Sky: No that’s not the number you need to dial try 08705 800 800

Customer: Hmmm….(exasperation time..)
The Customer dials the 5th new helpline number 08705 800 800:

He gets exactly the same 5 options for Sky+ customers as he got the first time? How come the menu’s the same if it’s a different number?

Anyway a lady answers;
Sky: Hello how can I help you?

Customer: Yes, hello, I am trying to find out about a Sky+ Instruction Manual, I was wondering if I could download one from the site?

Sky: I don’t know about the internet but I can order one for you now Sir.

Customer: Eh? Can you? Really?

Sky: Yes Sir?

Sky: It will take a few days to get it from Pace

Customer: Errr,well, how do I know about new software updates and new features?

Sky: You should watch channel 998 and we will inform you when new features are added.

Customer: letter?

Sky: Yes Sir

Sky: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer: No thanks but Thank You Very much for your help.

The Customer Hangs Up and that is the end of the story.

"Unbelievable" might think.  

Many of you may ask how we know if this story is true?

You might well ask.

Well m’Lord that Customer just happens to be me. I called on Thursday 25th July at 18:45 – and finished the calls at 19:05.

Exhibit B

The Sky.Com website is hopeless, useless and unsupportive for Sky+ users.

My not very web literate dog could write-up equally useful web pages for Sky+ users to the current sad non-attempt

Why Sky don’t care about Sky+ customers on the web is baffling.
The initial users of Sky+ will in a large proportion be technical savvy, experienced internet users who love nothing more than to allow the World Wide Web to serve their every need.

But not with Sky+ I’m afraid.

Unless there is a well-concealed portal that has white text on a white background, I’m afraid that there is ABSOLUTELY NO information on the website about Sky+.

I take it back, there is page, that says, "Sky+ - buy it now – and gives a very brief feature list – it’s here if you’ve got 5 seconds.

So what are we looking for?

Well, ANYTHING would be an improvement.

What about an official Sky+ contact no. for all your Sky+ enquiries, so
that you wouldn’t have to call 5 different numbers.

How about a nice little Acrobat Reader file (pdf file) that allowed you to
download the latest version of the Sky+ Instruction manual.
This would be great as well for software updates, as the manual could be
revised each time an update happened.
At the moment, everyone’s manual is out of date. It doesn’t mention 30
speed fast forward and reverse. It doesn’t mention Go To number of
minutes into the recording, etc, etc. This will only get worse as more
features are added.

What about a list of bugs on the website. No software is perfect, and
it’s insulting of Sky to pretend they don’t exist, however small.

How about a list of features planned for the future?
We’re not asking for promises, just a vague road-map of where the Sky+ future is heading.

How about an official Sky+ users discussion forum, where experienced .
people could help new people.

How about a customer contact strategy on the web site that actually
served the customer, e.g. :
*   an e-mail the Sky+ team option
*   Click a button for an instant web chat with a Sky+ customer service
*   Ask for a video chat, if you’re on broadband internet.

How about an official Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from Sky on
Sky+ so that customers can find out information for themselves?

How about a call me back button that got a Sky+ rep to call you?

What about a feedback form for Sky+?

What about a suggestion box – so that customers can have some input
into future software updates for Sky+.

Publish online questionnaires where customers enter their account
numbers and answer lots of useful market research and product
development type questions.

Offer Sky+ t-shirts, mugs and other merchandise. Once you’ve got
Sky+ you want everyone to know how great the product is.

Sky should give official feedback and updates on the progress of Sky+
software development. E.g. "The hoped for Spring software update is
now likely to be a summer release."

"Enough already" I hear you say, not everyone lives their life on the internet.

But of course, if there was information on the web, it would not be difficult to reproduce on hard paper copy? Essential Sky+ phone numbers, new features, inserts for your Sky+ Instruction Manual and news about future planned updates, invite feedback and offer Sky+ merchandise. Send it all in a letter to the "valued" Sky+ customers.

Exhibit C

The competition, Sky+ is not the only Hard disk based television / video recorder on the market.

A rival service offered by Tivo offers real customer care: They do provide downloadable instruction manuals, and revisions from the Internet. They send messages frequently to their customers via their New Messages function on their customers set top box.
In unofficial Tivo discussion forums, Tivo staff identify themselves as Tivo staff and join in and help advise users with points and explanations.

If you phone the Tivo customer service team, one person will deal with you from start to finish. Result!

It is my belief that Sky+ is the superior product but Tivo offer by far superior customer service.

The Summing Up:

In fairness to Sky they seem to have their stall set out in a satisfactory manner for telephone Options regarding purchasing Sky+, activating Sky+, Booking an install or If you are experiencing technical difficulties. All these need to be web enabled on the site though.

If it's a transactional event – Sky staff & procedures can cope, book a date, take your money, activate your account. Anything that isn’t press button A on the Keyboard though is more complex and the feeling the customer is left with is that either Sky can’t cope with Sky+ users needs, or customers go away with the impression that Sky don’t care..

What is most galling is that most Sky+ subscribers will be Sky’s top earning subscribers producing maximum revenue with the £10 Sky+ subscription and many having mirror subscriptions (an extra £12) for the old digiboxes.


The Sentence
In a sentence here’s the bottom line:

Above all Sky should make the Sky+ subscriber feel like a VIP.
At the moment that is not what is happening.

Sky+ customers have been shoved from pillar to post, ignored, subjected to little or no communication, no customer satisfaction phone surveys for everyone, not a single letter about Sky+ since subscribing.

No new Sky+ instruction manual, inserts or updates have been sent out or proactively been made available. No contact details for Sky+ queries on bills or on the Web.

And most damning of all – no obvious improvements in the Customer Care pipeline to better the life of Sky+ customers. 

Come on Sky – rise to the challenge & make your customer service match the ground breaking, innovative, responsive and market leading Personal Television Recorder solution that is Sky+.   Aim for the Sky…..

To discuss or see discussion on this issue in The Digital Spy - Sky+ forum please click here.

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